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Old 07-14-2014, 08:09 PM   #91
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Originally Posted by MassiveLee View Post
Went thu this report this morning and definitely enjoyed it. Thanks very much for taking the time writing it.

Lee
I'm just ecstatic that I can write my story of Paraguay.
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Old 07-15-2014, 06:20 AM   #92
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First Ride

My friend rode this 2008 Wildfire to work for a season and then put it away for two years. It has less than 3000 miles on it so I acidified the new empty battery and hopped it up overnight. Replacing the old varnish with fresh gas probably made the initial start-up a bit easier.

Seeing my Father-in-law scooting along the brick alley behind the house reminded me of my first rides in that same alley.

Pittsburgh is not an easy city to navigate. Hills everywhere and not a single road is ever straight. So we jumped on our bikes to pick up another motorcycling friend for our first learn-the-roads ride.




We arrived at my friend's house. But then we had to break out the voltmeter since the bike wouldn't even turn over. Totalmente muerta.





Just then I remembered that the previous owner mentioned a periodic fuse problem. It has one of those old-school cylindrical fuses parallel with the main positive wire so my friend scrounged up three replacements from an old bike he has.

The first replacement burned out after a few seconds.

I had taken off the right switch-throttle assembly the day before to add a section of bicycle inner tube and keep it from rotating so we took it off again and checked it thoroughly. Nothing obvious.

Since night was approaching and we really didn't want to leave the bike at his house, we placed fuse #2 of 3 and planned a start-up procedure like they did in Apollo 13 for re-entry:

- Apply brake to allow bike to turn over.
- Kill switch ON
- Press start
- Turn on key
- Pray

I think the praying worked since it started up and we headed straight home. My friend followed in his car just in case something went really badly.

Disassembly and diagnosis tomorrow.
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Old 07-16-2014, 06:20 AM   #93
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The Fix

We failed to blow the fuse using all the switches available. One by one we tried them all since that would be the easiest way to find the problem. No luck.

Figuring (hoping) it was probably some obvious fault, we then removed the front plastics to take a look.





We disconnected and reconnected everything just for fun as we inspected all the wires, looking for anything unusual. A couple of minutes into it, we found some tape-wrapped wires that weren't original. Unwrapping the wires, we found





Why the hand brake switch would cause the problem is beyond me, but somebody replaced the connectors and wrapped them tightly together either causing or trying to fix the obvious short circuit evidenced by the melted plastic. Separate wrapping is better.

So we buttoned it up since we couldn't find anything else, fixing and improving the little things along the way. The cylindrical fuse was replaced with a modern bladed fuse holder and placed for easy access. The positive battery connector was not original and too flexy for my liking so we replaced that too, testing the bike at every step along the way.

The test rides were fine. We bled the front brakes and adjusted the rear. Now I'll lead him on some longer runs to see if he can learn some of the main routes and eventually go out by himself.
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Old 07-16-2014, 07:24 AM   #94
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Originally Posted by ruxix50 View Post
I'm just ecstatic that I can write my story of Paraguay.
And one aspect of your story telling that I enjoyed is that you write it from "within", with the eyes of someone for whom it is the daily life, not with the eyes of a tourist. What stroke me the most is when you describe the display of "carne fresca". Fresh meat at the butcher shop, exposed to the sun, air and flies. Normal stuff in Paraguay but that wouldn't "pass the test" in North America. All that you described is the normal life of normal people with the usual normal ordeals. Yes, road are how they are and everyone is used to it. Transportation are what they are. Social and economical structures are what they are. And even the shit pot is what it is...
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Old 07-16-2014, 05:43 PM   #95
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Originally Posted by MassiveLee View Post
And one aspect of your story telling that I enjoyed is that you write it from "within", with the eyes of someone for whom it is the daily life, not with the eyes of a tourist. What stroke me the most is when you describe the display of "carne fresca". Fresh meat at the butcher shop, exposed to the sun, air and flies. Normal stuff in Paraguay but that wouldn't "pass the test" in North America. All that you described is the normal life of normal people with the usual normal ordeals. Yes, road are how they are and everyone is used to it. Transportation are what they are. Social and economical structures are what they are. And even the shit pot is what it is...

And now I am trying to wrap my brain around my Father-in-law's perspective of my life in Pittsburgh that is normal to me. I lead or follow on our moto rides and he does some of the strangest things - sometimes I have absolutely zero clue what he is thinking.

But I want to understand him.

And writing helps me understand.

So thanks for reading (and I hope you're reading this on the pot - I don't care where you put the paper.)
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Old 07-17-2014, 06:12 AM   #96
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First Ride with No Mechanicals

It's less than a mile from my house to some good twisty roads and I'm a quarter mile outside the city limits of Pittsburgh. With only the occasional stop sign or traffic signal to interrupt the ride, we left on one road to return on the other and get him familiar with major intersections and the good roads.

Abandoned building photos are always interesting and they make you feel like you're far from civilization.





I led on the first loop just to show him what to watch for. Then we plotted the route home since that's kinda important. We switched leaders and he promptly ran a stop sign at 30 mph. It's not like the sign was hidden or anything - there was a 'stop sign ahead' sign. So I overtook and we talked at the next stop.

We finished the loop and headed home. I had shown him the route home a couple of times so I let him lead and he almost took us up the ramp to the main highway toward Pittsburgh. I figured he and his bike wouldn't handle anything more than 45 mph so I pulled ahead and motioned him off his path toward home. Then we saw another Chinese scoot and stopped for a photo shoot.





Navigating in an unfamiliar place is always a trial.
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Old 07-17-2014, 10:28 AM   #97
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Blue Sky

This morning dawned with a beautiful blue sky - not a cloud to be seen.





Unusual for Pittsburgh. Normal for Asuncion.


Yesterday's high temperature in Paraguay's winter was better than our summer high here in Pgh.
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Old 07-18-2014, 09:18 AM   #98
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Sadly, this view really impresses them every time.





It's just a creek, right? But if you've seen any creek in Paraguay, they're disgustingly full of garbage of every type. Kids toss their wrappers out the bus window with the blessing of their parents and there are plenty of people who can't afford garbage pickup. Sometimes the houses perched precariously on the creek bank eject their waste water directly to the creek with every flush. So garbage ends up wandering the streets and creeks.

I love catching crayfish and snakes in the creek while we watch Great Blue Herons fish and Bald Eagles fly overhead. We've got it good.
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Old 07-18-2014, 03:55 PM   #99
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Tio Silvino died today.

In Paraguay.

He's my Father-in-Law's older brother and this thread is now about my Father-in-Law's adventures. Here in the United States.

Silvino is to be buried tomorrow as is their tradition. So no chance for a complete family reunion.



Tio Silvino with my wife on the right and her sister on the left


We took that picture last summer knowing that years apart can change a family. A lot. They were a family of ten kids. Now seven. One sister died at seven months, another a few years ago at 57, and now Silvino at 66. Their Mom is still alive and she's not happy about it. She turns 98 - tomorrow.

Both recent family deaths were related to diabetes. What do you do when you don't make any money? You can't afford much protein and the cheap food is sugar, white flour, white bread, and rice - a constant diet of that will kill a diabetic.

It didn't help anything that Silvino spent his earnings on drink and smokes. They amputated both his legs in the last few years and he was in the local state hospital for some other dread ailment when he died.

Both my grandfathers died while I was in Paraguay.
My wife's grandfather died after she came up here to marry me.

Death at a Distance

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Old 07-19-2014, 06:18 AM   #100
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We went for a tour to get some good views of Pittsburgh.



Actually a wonderful view of the city from afar


"My name is Romualdo. I've gone down about forty times while riding about 20,000 miles a year - just an estimate since the odometer often doesn't work. Some of those crashes were from back in my drinking days, but that's just what happens when you ride so much on bad roads in the dark and the rain with a headlight switch in the off position or so weak it only illuminates your front fender."





"The cow's not unusual. It's the fence that's the strange thing."





Our church on the Northside of Pittsburgh





"American football. That's a game I'll never understand."





"Those geese don't have owners? Nobody eats them?"





"Where my daughter got her first degree."





Pittsburgh through a gap in the trees from Troy Hill.
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Old 07-21-2014, 05:08 PM   #101
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Stupid Signs

Who came up with this sign?





First, do you have these in your neighborhood? They're all over Western PA and Pittsburgh.

Second, how does anybody expect my Father-in-Law to know that there are exceptions to the stop sign? ("No English") I'm trying teach him that stop signs are not optional.

Kinda like English, I guess. I before E except after C. But....
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Old 07-22-2014, 06:14 AM   #102
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Rain, New Bike, and Donuts

When it rains in Paraguay, some streets become rivers





and you avoid the roads if you can. Many skip school and two wheels can be not only unpleasant but dangerous in heavy rains.





Here's a story of a woman who was swept away and drowned in a heavy rain. http://www.abc.com.py/articulos/muje...ia-315008.html

and another of a Brazilian tourist from earlier this year http://www.abc.com.py/edicion-impres...s-1226037.html

So I raised some eyebrows when I suggested that we ride in the rain. When he found out it was highway and that we'd be riding the big bike two up, he felt a little better.

First to Coraopolis to respond to an ad for a 2011 V Strom 650 ABS. That 150 I rode last year in Paraguay convinced me that my bike may be too big at 650 lb+. I am thinking of something lighter and newer than my '88 Concours. The fact that I just threw it (gently) to the ground last month in the alley behind my house might have something to do with it.

Then from Coraopolis to Tarentum to visit Gatto's motorcycle shop





and drink some coffee.





"You pay how much for coffee?
And what's a donut?
It's really good, though, whatever you call it."




(This is my Dunkin' Story)


The full-face helmet made a big difference for him and the road wasn't a river so a rainy day wasn't a problem.
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Old 07-25-2014, 05:13 AM   #103
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Pittsburgh at Night

We took a ride to Mount Washington to see the city at night.





It's really beautiful and that's the best place to see it. If you're coming to Pittsburgh from the south or east, you get to go through a tunnel that ends in another great view of the city. Watch for it when you exit the tunnels cuz it's a great view and you're going fast so it's easy to miss. We went through the tunnel to get out of the city and then came right back for the view.

This, by the way is an alternate method of wearing a helmet.





Common in Paraguay where helmets are legally required, he wanted me to assure you that he never wears it that way. Another method is to shove your arm through the head hole and back out the face hole - an elbow helmet.
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Old 07-27-2014, 06:12 AM   #104
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Liberty

When I visit Paraguay, the bus system is a bit unpredictable and slow but it gets you there. I started exploring on foot and by bicycle soon after I arrived back in 2003 and my wanderlust continues every time I visit.

It seems to me that my wife's parents are trapped here at our home. I don't know if they feel it, but I do. So it's been my goal to get the man out to learn the neighborhood by foot, by car, and by motorcycle. Language is an insurmountable problem so he guides himself mainly by getting to know major intersections and significant landmarks - it takes time.

There's a strip mall and a few nice parks just three miles from here with minimal turns on surface streets where he can take his wife for lunch so we raced to the mall.



I am way too big for that tiny scoot


I ran every light and ignored every sign but I had to wait at one major turn to show him the way. I told him we were going to gas up so he waited for a few seconds at a service station until I saw him and waved him on. We hit the mall side by side. Empate.

We visited the parks, reviewed the intersections and landmarks, and headed home. Leaving the mall there's no competition - the bicycle wins every time. I reminded him that the route was derechiiiiiito all the way home with just one turn at the end and headed off.

Then I waited at the only turn on our route.

And waited some more.

Crap. He's either on the highway or he crossed the bridge since there's really only one place he would have been tricked into turning off. So I headed back and found him waiting at a corner just before the turns I suspected. The road opened up to four lanes and he stayed in the right lane which turned into a cloverleaf where he realized his mistake. He even backtracked to the mall just to see if he could do it right the second time. No luck.

Soon he'll head out on his first solo moto adventure. Cell phone included.
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Old 07-28-2014, 05:52 AM   #105
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Gravel

It was time for some off-road adventures so we went about five miles outside Pittsburgh where the asphalt ended.





When I first asked Romu if he was up for this adventure, he asked if the roads were empedrado - that rough, rocky, sand filled road that is 'pavement' even in parts of the capital city.

There were some nice views.








and we found a horse jumping corral with a prancing horse.








The girl on the horse, obviously disturbed by our presence, asked "can I help you?" and I told her that we had stopped to see the corral and asked if it was OK if we watched for a minute. "Sure. No problem." Then she pulled out her cell phone and texted her Mom that some weirdos were watching her. We headed to the bikes but the fuse had blown and our getaway was foiled.





We found a rutted gravel side road that dropped us into this park





and then rode back up the slope. Romu said his bike loses all power on inclines and he wasn't sure he would make it and I told him that my ParaguayChinaBike bike had ascended far worse. No problem ascending for either of us.





Sugar cane fields are much more common in Paraguay than this





and gun stores are much more common here than in Paraguay - he knows of only two in his 20,000 miles a year and he says the prices are ridiculous.





Tunnels abound.





I had no idea that Teen Challenge was in the area.





All in all we had a great ride. It was mostly pavement with about three miles on roads like this.





His little scooter was great on those roads. My monster bike - not so much. Maybe it's time for fuel injection. And ABS. And time to lose 200 pounds (off the bike!)
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